Understanding IMC

From Municipal Cooperation

Understanding IMC
When is IMC relevant?
What are the different areas of IMC?
What are the benefits of IMC?
How many municipal functions can be performed under IMC?
How many municipalities can be involved in IMC?
What are the different possible legislative contexts for IMC?
What are the most common legal forms of IMC in Western Europe?
How is IMC financed?
What are the potential negative side effects of IMC?

What is IMC?


  • IMC refers to two or more neighbouring municipalities working together to perform municipal administrative tasks, deliver public services to citizens and promote local development more efficiently and effectively than through isolated action.


  • IMC is based on mutual interest in performing municipal function more efficiently and effectively.
  • IMC concerns one or several legal functions of the municipalities.
  • IMC is voluntary, rather than imposed by law, which may, however, sometimes oblige local government to look for a cooperative solution.
  • IMC involves a sharing of roles and responsibilities.
  • IMC involves a sharing of costs, risks, control and benefits.
  • IMC is not ad hoc - it is most often a durable arrangement with an undefined expiry date.
  • IMC is flexible and dynamic - it responds to changes in the environment and its form evolves over time.
  • IMC does not involve a full transfer of municipal functions - municipal governments maintain at least indirect control over the decisions and services that result from cooperation.

IMC is not about

  • representing the interests of the parties vis-à-vis central government;
  • territorial reform involving the re-shaping of the boundaries of local jurisdictions;
  • cooperation between municipalities and another tier of government;
  • international and transborder cooperation, except in very rare cases.